Posted by: tomciocco | August 1, 2008


First things first, Freisa (which is a Piedmontese grape variety, by the way) is pronounced in two syllables thus: FRAY-za. So what’s with the handle “Freisa”? The name’s etymology is uncertain. The possible link with the French word for strawberry (fraise) surfaces often, but the standard Italian word for strawberry is fragola and the Piedmontese dialect word is something like frohla so maybe it’s just coincidental…However, by virtue of its long political and cultural ties with the Franco-Italian royal house of Savoy, “Old Piedmont” speaks with a slight French accent if you will, so perhaps there’s something to the whole fraise/freisa  thing after all…but that being said, Freisa is absolutely unknown in France to both vineyard and table…

But recent genetic gumshoeing has turned up another “French connection”… In the course of investigating the genes of Piedmont’s most famous grape variety – none other than than the noble Nebbiolo – it was discovered that Nebbiolo was closely related to Freisa, and – hold onto your stemware – VIOGNIER! Yes, the aromatic white grape from the northern Rhone, Viognier. There may have been subsequent clarifications made, but last I remember reading, it is not yet clear precisely how these three varieties are related i.e. are the relationships direct “parent – child” relations, or are all three  younger/older “cousins”, or something else again? No matter the precise shape of the family tree, these three varieties are incontrovertibly kin.

All this genetic mapping business will likely be fully fleshed out sooner than later, but in the end, no matter its origins or pedigree, Freisa is, and is likely to remain a Piedmontese spciality. Freisa’s a bit of a wild child, really: deep and densely colored with twangy, earthy wild berry flavors and a palate that is both notably to very tannic and acidic as well. Further, finished Freisas naturally retain a bit of a spritz, and this tendenency is often not discouraged but accepted, and in fact often encouraged to make wines don’t just hold onto a little prickle of CO2, but wines that are notably and quite intentionally bubbly.

Arguing wine and food pairing could blow out a thousand voices boxes at a thousand tables and bars, but when those who really know Freisa talk about Freisa, one pairing NEVER fails to surface, and that is our liquid subject, and SALUMI! This Italian word, as can be inferred, refers to salamis and many other types of preserved/dried (almost always) pork products that in addition to salame in include things like coppa, soppressata, capicolla, dried sausages, and even hams, pancetta, etc.

There’s likely some food science white paper on the PRECISE reason why Freisa and salty, greasy, dried pork products love each other so much, but if someone were to stop me on the street and pose the question to me, I’d say that Freisa’s saucy, even brash structure, and wild, gamey aromas enmesh wantonly with the luxurious, unctuous, and often FUNKY flavas of GOOD salumi . We all like to skewer a conventionally held “classic food and wine pairing” now and again, but for me, this one is unimpeachable. Try a big plate of the one and a bottle of the other and then come back and even TRY to tell me why it weren’t no good. Huh.

Among other dishes served with Francesco Boschis Freisa Bosco delle Cicale 2006, the salumi plate below was composed of salame, coppa, a salsiccia alla cacciatora, and in the center, mortadella. Check the notes:





















  Francesco Boschis Freisa Bosco delle Cicale 2006
















Deep violet color with a black cast. Extroverted nose of blackberry, mineral, loam, and blood orange juice. The slightly bubbly palate is clean and SUPER dry with “sweet and sour” flavors of mixed wild berries, black cherries, watermelon juice, with good depth, an elegant, satiny texture and medium-grained, scrubby tannins on the finish.





  1. It’s morning here on the West Coast and for some strange reason I want to have wine and a salami plate for breakfast…Thanks for linking my blog!

  2. Hi Alejandro-

    Thanks for the comment. I’m just discovering Pervian food (though I’ve been a Pisco aficionado for years!) Aside from your site, can you direct me/others to more info/recipes/etc. from Peru?

    Looking forward to hearing from you!

    Tom Ciocco

  3. Check out the links on my left sidebar, I’ve tried to put up as many of the best ones I’ve discovered, in English and Spanish. If you look at the Peruvian food blogs in Spanish, you can always use Google translator to get a general idea…hope that helps.

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